Embracing the Mark

The “inhabitants of the earth” willingly venerate the Beast and take its mark, although Christians are not immune from its allure

666 Photo by Master Wen on Unsplash
Discussions on the “
mark of the Beast” focus on questions about what it is - a medical implant, barcode, tattoo - and especially the significance of its “number,” ‘666.’ As interesting and important as these questions are, the far more critical question for the Christian is: How is the mark implemented, and how does the believer avoid taking it or the “number of the beast”? - [666 - Photo by Master Wen on Unsplash].

The popular tendency is to picture the “False Prophet” busily tricking or compelling anyone and everyone to take the “mark,” using economic pressure, threats of imprisonment, or worse, for all who refuse it. Apparently, men and women will have no choice but to take the “mark” or suffer deadly consequences. Take the “mark” or starve!

Almost certainly, when the “beast” does appear, his reign will include an element of coercion. However, the book of Revelation does NOT free individuals from their responsibility for rendering homage to the “beast” - Christian or otherwise.

When he appears on the world scene, the “beast from the earth” will cause the “inhabitants of the earth” to take the “mark of the beast.” He will “deceive those who are dwelling upon the earth,” so they will make an image of the “beast from the sea.” Furthermore, he will “cause” everyone to take its “mark” or “number” - (Revelation 13:11-18).

The last statement indicates the “mark” is imposed by the “False Prophet” on both the willing and the unwilling. However, this is not the complete story.

The “beast from the earth” certainly sets things in motion; however, recipients of the “mark” are consciously involved – “taking” the “mark” is part and parcel of “rendering homage to the beast.” The “False Prophet” may use deceit and threats when needed, nonetheless, the “inhabitants of the earth” are willing participants in the process.

In the seven “bowls of wrath,” the first bowl caused “a painful ulcer upon men, those having the mark of the beast and those rendering homage to his image.” “Having” and “rendering homage” represent present tense Greek participles that are in the active voice, which means the subject performs the action. That is, the individuals involved actively engage in taking the “mark”; they embrace the system. That is why they suffer the plagues unleashed by the “bowls of wrath” - (Revelation 16:1-2).

In the vision of the “Rider on a White Horse,” the “beast” and the “False Prophet” were cast alive into the “Lake of Fire” because they had “deceived those having taken the mark of the beast.” Again, an active voice participle is used. “Having taken” or lambanō in the clause means to “take” the “mark” - (Revelation 19:17-21).

Finally, those who reign with Christ for the “thousand years” do so because “they did not render homage to the beast,” and because they “did not take its mark.” Once again, active voice verbs are used, in this case, for actions NOT taken by the followers of the “Lamb.” Their decision is contrasted to that of the “inhabitants of the earth,” who chose to give their allegiance to the “beast” - (Revelation 20:4-6).

When the “beast” arrives, Christians and non-Christians alike will have a choice - Whether to bow to the beast or not. Everyone will be held responsible for his or her choice, whether to follow the “beast” or the “Lamb”.

Thus, Christians must exercise extreme caution before blindly embracing the societal values of the existing world order or submitting to the demands of any political regime.

The seven churches of Asia were not immune from the danger, especially the church at Laodicea. That congregation became reliant on the material prosperity provided by the local economy; so much so, the only option remaining was for it to embrace faithfulness to Jesus by undergoing fiery trials – (Revelation 3:17).


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